June 2015 Blog – Excellence in Mental Health Act – Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers

Excellence in Mental Health Act – Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers

State Preparation for Planning Grant- to compete for increased federal funds

The biggest federal investment in community behavioral health is  buried in a little-known provision in a federal law known as the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014. This law authorizes SAMHSA (the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) to designate eight states to receive a 15% increase in their federal share of costs for outpatient behavioral health care for two years through designation of certified community behavioral health centers (CCBHCs). The law is also known as the Excellence in Mental Health Act which is the term still preferred by its sponsoring members of Congress (including California’s Doris Matsui) and lead advocacy organization the National Council for Behavioral Health. Continue reading June 2015 Blog – Excellence in Mental Health Act – Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers

May 2015 Blog – Governor’s May Budget Revise – First Takes

Governor’s May Budget Revise – First Takes

Surprising lack of increase in Mental Health Services Act Revenues – No major changes in health and behavioral health programs. Earned Income Tax Credit for poor is major non education new program.

On May 14th, Governor Brown released his May Revise to his proposed state budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year. It has been widely reported that state revenues are running way above CCCMHA_63_logoprojections and that most of the new money would go to schools. The May Revise confirmed both of those forecasts but surprisingly there was no forecasted increase in revenues from the Mental Health Services Act.

We really have no explanation for this. We have asked the State Department of Finance how it can be true that overall income tax revenues are 5% above January forecasts for the current 14-15 year and up 3% for the 15-16 so called budget year, but the incomes of millionaires remain the same as forecast in January.

The only explanation we can think of is that somehow the governor made ambitious forecasts for the MHSA revenues in January that already accounted for the growth in incomes (since MHSA forecasts in January were substantially above previous estimates) but chose in January to be much more cautious for overall state revenues.

If and when we get a better explanation it will be provided.

Like most health and human service advocates we were disappointed that there were no major restorations of funding in specific programs- not even in the Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction Grants which we had believed would be a priority for the governor in expanding funds for health since it had proven its value in reducing recidivism. We expect legislators to propose increases in this and other programs not included in the governor’s May Revise.

The governor did acknowledge that there are some general fund revenues available; while not increasing programs that are part of the “safety net” he did propose a tax credit for the lowest income individuals and families with incomes under $13,000 that tops out at $2,300 for a family of three or more with income under $6,000 and will cost just under $400 million annually.

The budget includes funding for a cost of living increase for MediCal physical health managed care plans (which does not affect county behavioral health) and acknowledges that the broader responsibilities of health plans for mild/moderate mental health and autism and the expanded county alcohol and drug programs are expected to add $360 million in state costs in 2015-16.

There is also $61 million (from federal and foundation funds) to implement health homes which will include all adults with severe mental illnesses and provide coordination to support better physical health for these individuals. It will also provide better integration with alcohol and drug services and physical health for everyone through screening for behavioral health lead in primary care and coordinated “warm hand off” services for those who screen positive as this program is gradually implemented through the Section 1115 Waiver program expected to gain federal approval in October.

Consistent with his January budget the governor provides more debt relief including the final payment of all of the pre 2004 state mandate obligations to local government. This includes nearly $700 million dollars to counties with the AB 3632 program the largest of these mandates.   In most counties that money goes to the county general fund, but in a few counties the funding goes to mental health and there are also providers whose contracts withheld funds until the county was paid and who will benefit directly from this funding.

The May Revise presumes the courts will allow the federal government to proceed with implementing the President’s order on immigrants and includes $62 million to provide full-scope Medi-Cal coverage to immigrants granted deferred action and $5 million for the Department of Social Services to provide grants to non-profits to provide application assistance to undocumented immigrants eligible for deferred action.

In education the governor includes $10 million for the multi tiered mental health programs envisioned in CCCMHA sponsored AB 1025 (Thurmond) which can support pilot programs to replicate the successful Seneca model program to determine if the cost effectiveness achieved in that program in Oakland (and a similar program run by the Desert Mountain Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) in San Bernardino County) can be achieved in other localities through similar county and school partnerships. This funding should help the bill get enacted.

The budget also increase funding for affordable housing from $200 million annually to $400 million as part of the so called Cap and Trade program which is a fee on factories and gas and oil use that is mostly for energy and transportation.

These were the main budget changes we noticed in our initial review.

There are probably others of importance to community behavioral health and we will provide updates as we obtain more information.

April 2015 Blog – We Need Statewide Transparent and Consistent County Behavioral Health Budgets For Stakeholders

We Need Statewide Transparent and
Consistent County Behavioral Health
Budgets For Stakeholders

In light of state reports of 30% revenue increases
over two years

At the end of February fiscal consultant Mike Geiss did his annual report to the Financial Oversight Committee of the state Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission. That report  showed that over the two year period reflecting the 2014-15 and 2015-16 years the revenues projected to be available to CCCMHA_63_logocounties for behavioral health services increased by 30% – more than $1.5 Billion from what was available in 2013-14. About half of the growth comes from Proposition 63 (Mental Health Services Act or MHSA) funds for which charts show amounts by quarter by county.   About 1/3 is from increased federal funds as a result of the Affordable Care Act which is due to increased enrollment in MediCal and the fact that most new enrollees are adults whose coverage is completely paid with federal funds. The rest is from realignment and mostly from 2011 realignment with the state not yet having decided how to allocate the growth among counties. Continue reading April 2015 Blog – We Need Statewide Transparent and Consistent County Behavioral Health Budgets For Stakeholders

March 2015 Blog – Steinberg Institute and CBHDA response to Little Hoover Commission Report

Steinberg Institute and CBHDA response to Little Hoover Commission Report

What we can show now and what still needs to be done

Early this year the state’s Little Hoover Commission released a report that included a press release stating that there was a lack of data to determine if Proposition 63 is achieving its goals.CCCMHA_63_logo

On March 11th Darrell Steinberg led a press conference, joined by several county mental health leaders, to present data that shows that the Full Service Partnership program representing 40% of Proposition 63 funds is accomplishing its goals of reducing homelessness by 50% , incarcerations by 80%, emergency room use by 80% and psychiatric hospitalizations by 40%. Continue reading March 2015 Blog – Steinberg Institute and CBHDA response to Little Hoover Commission Report

February 2015 Blog – In many states, behavioral health Medicaid carve outs are in jeopardy, but not in California. Why is that so?

ICCCMHA_63_logon many states, behavioral health Medicaid carve outs are in jeopardy, but not in California. Why is that so?

It is difficult to go to a health policy forum and not hear people talk about ending the behavioral health carveout in MediCal. Health plans, federally qualified health centers, health policy “experts” all seem to advocate for such an action and not surprisingly many in the mental health community fear that this will happen and worry about the state not seeking renewal of the Section 1915 (b) Freedom of Choice Waiver which has been in place since 1995 creating counties as the single managed care entity for mental health. That waiver is up for renewal in June of 2015. Many in the mental health community appear worried that the state will not seek its renewal or that the federal government will not approve it. They further worry that if that happened the so called carve out by which these services are provided through counties instead of managed care plans would come to an end.

However, those worries appear to be misplaced. Moreover, even if the waiver did not continue, the county system would not go away without a vote of the people to overturn two voter approved ballot measures.

Continue reading February 2015 Blog – In many states, behavioral health Medicaid carve outs are in jeopardy, but not in California. Why is that so?

January 2015 Blog – Steinberg Institute: Advancing Mental Health Policy

Steinberg Institute:
Advancing Mental Health Policy

A unique and powerful new ally from our best friend ever

California’s mental health community has enjoyed an incredible run of legislative support over the past 16 years led by Darrell Steinberg, who is probably the first person elected to declare from the outset that his highest priority was to provide funding to support community mental health – especially for people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness due to their severe mental illness. His legislation in the Assembly laid the foundation for Proposition 63 which he co-authored with me. In the Senate he rose to the most powerful position in the legislature as Senate President Pro Tem. In the first few years, during a devastating state recession and budget deficits, all he could do was to minimize the losses. Finally in his last two years in office he was able to successfully get mental health front and center in the fight for very limited state budget funds for expansion of programs.

Continue reading January 2015 Blog – Steinberg Institute: Advancing Mental Health Policy

Inaugural Blog by Rusty Selix: Proposition 47 ends the “War on Drugs” and takes big steps toward reducing the criminalization of mental illness.

PROPOSITION 47 ENDS THE WAR ON DRUGS AND TAKES A BIG STEP TOWARD REDUCING CRIMINALIZATION OF MENTAL ILLNESSES

The headlines after Election Day focused on the Republicans taking over majority control of the U.S. Senate.  While that will undoubtedly change the debate (but not necessarily any actions in Washington DC), a very clear big impact both in California, and eventually across the U.S. will come from the overwhelming California voter approval of Proposition 47.

Continue reading Inaugural Blog by Rusty Selix: Proposition 47 ends the “War on Drugs” and takes big steps toward reducing the criminalization of mental illness.

Rusty Selix – California Leader in Mental Health Policy Issues and Co-author of Proposition 63